Woody’s Smorgasburger

It was sad when they turned the last outpost of Woody’s Smorgasburger, down on Sepulveda just South of LAX, into an International House of Pancakes. Lo, how the mighty have fallen. In the sixties, there were Woody’s all over California, including a wonderful one in Westwood Village, a block or three from U.C.L.A., where I could often be found between (and once in a while, even during) classes. Woody’s was the first chain I know of where you could get a hamburger and then carry it over to a little self-service counter stocked with ketchup, mustard, onions, pickles, salsa, barbecue sauce, etc., and do whatever you wanted to it. Today, there are chains aplenty like Fuddrucker’s that offer this but at the time, it was something rather special.

Woody’s burgers were pretty darn good too, with a nice barbecue flavor…and every Woody’s also had a “make your own sundae” bar: You could get an empty dish at the counter, fill it full of soft-serve vanilla ice cream, then slather it in a diverse selection of syrups and sprinkles and crushed nuts and such. My old comic club buddies and I would practically have a contest to see how much sundae we could get in one dish, building structurally-unsafe vertical arrays, then trying to walk them back to the table and devour the top stories before it all collapsed.

One of the guys once asked if he was allowed to put the toppings from the sundae bar on his burger or vice-versa. When they told him yes, he began speculating on what hot fudge or whipped cream would do to a hamburger, and whether the maraschino cherries would blend with the mustard or if he should leave the mustard off. Each visit to Woody’s, he’d say, “Next time, I’m going to try it,” but he never worked up the courage. Or wanted to spoil a good smorgasburger.

240 Responses to Woody’s Smorgasburger

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Last rule for today, ( although there are 10 more. )

    Rule ” Laziness ” …. Do not lean or sit on tables, counters or in any way
    give an impression of laziness. Also, we prepare and serve food off and out of most of these areas.

    This summer is my 49th anniversary marking my start with Woody’s.
    I know it is the same for Chris Pingel and Mike Schuler.
    I think a toast is in order. So …… Chris, Mike, Gary W. , Marshall, and all
    other employees and readers ; ” here’s to the great people we met and the great times we shared. ”

    My best regards to each and all.
    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Rule ” Cleanliness ” …. Never serve food that has fallen off a plate or on the floor. Silverware, china or napkins must never be picked off the floor and used.

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Rule ” Spillage ” …. No charge is to be made for food portions spoiled or spilled by accident, even if it is the fault of the patron.
    Replace immediately.

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Rule ” Clothing ” ….. Do not adjust your clothes or comb your hair out in the service area or dining room.

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    I just brought out my copy of ” General Rules at Woody’s “.
    It is 49 years old and in pristine condition ! Each new employee was given a copy when hired.
    I thought I would share some of the rules with you.

    ” On the Job ” ….Leaving your station without the consent of your supervisor is not permitted as it interrupts the service.

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Happy Father’s Day to all the guys out there!
    I was really straining my memory for this one: The last time I had steak and lobster on the same platter was at the Latitude 20 on the Coast Highway just north of Hawthorne. ( 1967, 1968 ) ( Torrance )
    Hop Louie owned and operated this exotic Hawiian venue for a good number of years. He featured big name talent to compliment the Island dancers. I was considered a regular and Hop always lamented about the trouble and headaches that came with booking live entertainment.
    The live shows, cocktails, and food were always excellent. Every visit !
    Boy, did I spend the $$$$ in that place. ( and always had two of the best seats for the shows. )

    In that time period I was managing Woody’s Redondo which was just a
    five minute drive from the ” 20″. Anyway, I invited Hop to come in and
    have a meal at Woody’s and on one late afternoon he did come in with his bookeeper. They each ordered the New York Strip with baked potato, salad and roll. At the time , I think the menu price was $2.49 or $2.89.
    They could not believe that Woody’s could put out this meal for the price.
    Well, that’s my story on ” Surf and Turf. ”
    Was anyone else a patron of the Latitude 20 ?
    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Hello Chris,
    WOW ! Steak AND lobster at the Risty ! Let’s see, last Saturday I think my wife and I shared a chicken burrito from Chipotle. ( tee he )
    Wish we had some EPL units here in the midwest.
    Did you learn how Ralph Wood is doing ? Please advise if you have updates. Thanks.
    Phil

  • Chris says:

    Had dinner at The Risty last Saturday. Saw Wayne there. He’s always there. We love that place it’s our comfort place. Had Risty’s flank steak and lobster. I love their food. We always have a nice relaxing time.
    I remember back around 1970 the managers got an employees discount at the Risty.
    Some of us went there one New years eve, JR was there too. I remember drinking their famous Margaritas. They had a hint of mint, if I remember correctly. All of us managers , I was manager of CC, #1, at the time, had such good times together when we would get together, sometimes after we’d take inventory we’d go have a few beers. it was fun.
    Back later,
    Chris

  • Steve says:

    To Phil (Mr. A) Thank you for mentioning the fellows who were KIA…God bless them, and you, sir…and it puts a face so to speak on what the day is about.

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    For Chris Pingel,
    Please comment on my narrative regarding my list of men who operated with Woody’s for the most years. I would like your opinion as to whether or not it is correct ….. or if I have left anyone out.
    Thanks,
    Phil

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Hello Chris and the Management ( Mark ? ) and all our Readers,
    Man O man …. this site is gonna catch on fire if we can post photos !!!
    I have many from Culver City and several from El Segundo, Redondo and the Admiral Risty. I myself have never posted photos before, but I assure you all that I will learn so that I can be in on this.

    Chris, Thanks for the Redondo update. Looks like this is unit #2 for the
    Brew House. First location is on Main street in El Segundo.
    I guess we should wish them well.

    I will be absent for a bit starting June 3rd as I am going north to Michigan to be with family. Please feel free to start without me regarding this photo
    posting. What fun !!!! Thank you Mark.
    Phil A.

  • The Management says:

    If you have photos that should be up here, send them to me. The address is on the “About This Site” page.

  • chris P. says:

    Phil,
    Is it possible to share pictures on this site some how?
    I have a few and probably other people do as well.
    Chris

  • Chris P says:

    I believe the managers name in 1978 was Pat C. He was a heavy set man and one of the nicest people I have ever met, always smiling.
    I was his boss. When I took over he still worked for me for a few more years.
    I remember hiring a girl named Susan S. but not sure what the year was.
    I took a picture, the other day, of the new Brew House in Redondo beach.
    That’s a new restaurant that replaced the Redondo Store that was torn down a few months ago. I wish I had gotten a few pictures of that. That was a sad.
    I hope I’m accurate on my comments today. 1978 was a long time ago. I’ll try to remember back and give you more facts.
    Chris

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Hello Susan B.
    Thank you for your appearance and comment on this site. Such fun !
    Since Woody’s was a semi cafeteria operation I am most curious as to what your duties as a hostess were. I think Marshall and Gary Wilcut are wondering as well.
    Anyway, Chris Pingel is the the guy who will be willing and able to answer your question about the manager. In fact, it probably was Chris himself, but I will let him speak to this issue after he reads your comment.
    I wish there was a photo of you at the grill !
    Regards,
    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Dear Readers,
    An important correction on my part for Stanley’s misspelled name;
    The correct spelling is:

    Stanley Joseph Vossen ~ Inglewood, CA. ~ Age at loss : 21

    I was pleased to discover that a portion of Sepulveda Blvd. in El Segundo has been dedicated to the men of Los Angeles County who served in Vietnam. This sign cannot be very far from the Woody’s location.
    How fitting for the families and friends of both Stan and Garey.
    Amen.

    Phil Ankofski

  • Susan B says:

    I worked at Woody’s in Culver City in 1978 when I was 15 years old! My first job and I worked as a hostess/cashier and then learned the best way to make hamburgers and did that for awhile! Sure wish I could remember the name of the manager at the time, he was awesome :)

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Dear Readers,
    We have all expressed an appreciation for Woody’s in one way or another. On this Memorial Day, I would like to use this forum to remember and honor two men who died in Vietnam. They both worked at Woody’s in El Segundo when they were yet boys.

    Stanley Vossin – Killed in Action May 6, 1968

    Stan worked as a part time lineman during the lunch rush. he also attended college part time with an interest in art.

    In early December of 1966, I asked Stan if he could replicate a picture of Santa’s smiling face onto the large glass panel next to the front door. He assured me he could, and he did. Stan’s beautiful painting gave a unique cheer to the restaurant throughout that holiday season.

    In the time frame in which Stan died, the TET offensive was on; Martin Luthor King was killed; and Robert Kennedy was killed in June. The songs of that time included “Hey Jude”, “Mony Mony”, and “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”.

    Yes Stan, we do remember you.

    Amen
    *****************

    Garey Grubbs – Killed in Action May 27, 1969

    Garey was a part time bus boy who worked the closing shift so he could attend day time college classes. Garey was a handsome boy with very dark hair and a non-stop smile. At a very young age, he found the love of his life who was a very beautiful girl. Of course, the plans they had been making were to be short-lived.

    Garey was such a wonderful asset to the staff, that his brother Cliff was hired in as well.

    In the time frame in which Garey died, Woodstock took place; the first 747s were delivered; and the moon landing occurred in July. The hot songs of that time paying on KHJ were “Sugar Sugar”; “Whole Lotta Love”; and “Bad Moon Rising”.

    Yes Garey, we do remember you.

    Amen

    – Authored by Phil Ankofski – May 2013

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Hello Readers,

    Whoever said afternoon naps cannot be productive?
    Todays nap session brought forth several names from Woody’s which must be acknowledged.
    Rudy Bennet : manager at El Segundo 1963/1964 which was the same time frame Ron Blasio was manager at Culver City. Rudy was a real handsome guy with a personality to match. He could have made it on the big screen.

    Les Simmons : Les was yet another guy with looks and personality.
    He also worked at El Segundo as a ” as needed supervisor ” to cover for managers who wanted to go on vacation. Les also covered for me several times when I was managing Redondo. He also covered at Figueroa.
    Les’s personality made him perfect for this role. He would show up for his new assignment and the whole crew took to him like they were all brothers.
    As I remember, Les was not available year round because he was in college.
    I know he had his heart set on going to Notre Dame but do not know if he accomplished this.
    If any of our readers know of Les, PLEASE advise me.

    Bob Anderson : Now here is the guy that Mr. Ralph Wood should have had as his son. Bob was dedicated , loyal and focused. He had a tremendous repore with all the El Segundo office patrons accoss the street.
    Bob had the same repore with his coworkers. He was hired in 1964 and worked many years until he took a break to try insurance and carpentry.
    After this stint, he returned to Woody’s El Segundo and worked many more years with Chris Pingel who was now the owner.

    Here is the lineup I came up with which shows the men who were associated with Woody’s Smorgasburger for the longest time.

    Chris Pingel ; Bus boy , lineman , manager , multi unit manager , and finally owner/operator of Culver City and El Segundo.
    Chris earns the top #1 spot because of the long life of his El Segundo store.
    Nice job Chris !

    Mr. Ralph Wood Jr. and partner John Cramer. ( 2nd and 3rd place )
    Originator / owners/operators of Woody’s Smorgasburger, Inc.
    Start date ; 1956
    Mr. Cramer sold his two units to Chris Pingel on 12/25/1978 ~
    Mr. Wood allowed the leases on his two remaing units ( #4 and #2) to expire in the time frame which was shortly after 1978.

    Bob Anderson ( fourth place ). Bobs many years with Woody’s was also due to the long life of the El Segundo store. He was hired in 1964 with Ralph Wood at the helm and retired in the early 1990’s with Chris Pingel’s ownership.
    ( there was a time interuption as indicated above. )

    JR:( fifth place ) This fella started with Mr. Wood around 1958 or 1959. He was a unit manager for some time and then was made general manager when Woody’s had five units up and running. To my knowledge he was associated with Woody’s until Mr. Wood gave up his leases for the Figueroa
    and Redondo Beach stores. ( late 1970’s or early 1980’s )

    Mr. Chris Pingel is the only individual among our readers who can affirm my pronouncements regarding the above. Chris, if I have made any errors I will gladly stand corrected.

    A friend of mine who worked at Woodland Hills in 1968 has suggested that I write a book. It is a cool idea, but the story line would need a love interest and that my friends I cannot provide.
    All my best,
    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Hello Readers,

    A self correction ; The spelling is LYONS root beer. By the way, the company is still in business offering the concentrate in one gallon jugs.
    I sure hope Chris Pingel has one or both of his Lyons barrels at home.
    I cannot think of a better item for him to have as a memento from his units in El Segundo and Culver City. Having the stainless spatulas would be just over the top.
    Phil A.

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Not going with the olives, as I don’t like them. I’d try the cashews, though. Probably go great with the teriyaki burger. As to pickles, I’ve got a ‘sweet pickle’ tooth. Hey – did anyone ever go to Pickle Bills restaurant on Ocean Park Bl?

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Good afternoon Readers,
    I just finished lunch ; my best Swissburger ever ! ( upped to 1/3 lb. )
    Toasted bun with mayo, catsup, crushed cashews and a nice slab of swiss cheese. Cooked in a fry pan on stove top. ( NOT RARE ) Dill and potato chips on the side. Fruit Punch instead of Lions Root Beer.

    This tip is worth passing on to all of you: There is a regional burger chain in Michigan called the ” Halo Burger “. Their claim to fame is their offering of sliced green olives for a burger topping. It really adds a new and tasty
    dimension. I really want you guys to try the olives. Cashews would be for a seperate time and not together with the green olives.
    That’s it. Enjoy the weekend.
    Phil Ankofski

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Marshall,
    I have not been able to open your photo post so I went to the BING IMAGE site and found plenty of photos of the 81 Safari. Nice ride !
    Since you lived in the City of Orange for so many years I only assume you do not have the surf board to hang out the back. ( tee hee. )
    Phil

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Chris –
    Yes, the UCLA students, and the University H.S. students would buy a sundae, put it on a tray, then they would see how high they could stack the soft-serve before it fell over. After a couple of goes at this, we would have to go out to the machine and stand over them and go, “Ahem……”

    Phil –
    Thanks for the tip on that CD. I’ll check it out. Now, still have to hook up a CD player in my ’81 Pontiac Bonneville Safari wagon (a ‘woody’, of course). Pics here:https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.472488122771134.114916.100000298509093&type=3

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Hi Chris.
    Thanks for the Mike S. updates. I remember him well from work plus being in his parents home with some of his other friends.
    If Mike ever reads this ; a big hello and God bless from Phil A. !

    I would love a photo of your Woody’s uniform items and I hope you can have your wife take the photo with you in it. That would make it priceless.
    Phil

    Marshall Loveday ……..” you’r Morganized !!!! ”

    Yes, Robert W. was my all time favorite as well. It would be hard to imagine driving to work or having a Southern California cultute without him. I will try to describe my all time favorite episode from one of his morning broadcasts.
    Here we go ; Robert W. is in studio and on the air with his four year old daughter by his side. ( Susie, I think ). Anyway, it must have been around Easter time as Robert W. was explaning how little chicks sound when making their little ” peeps “.
    Well, little Susie was not buying into her dad’s rendition at all.
    She jumped right in and started giving her dad hell for not doing the “peeps” correctly ……. and then proceeded to perform her version to everyone’s astonishment.
    I have yet to hear a more hillarious radio segment. RIP Robert W.

    Now Marshall, a tip for you which should make your day.
    The CD ” Cruisin 1965 ” was made featuring Robert W. exclusively on the air playing records, and doing commercials as well as his ” shtick “.
    The CD includes 10 of the best songs from 1965 and is available for ten bucks from Amazon.

    I keep my copy in the car during summer so if I am out and about in the early sunshine, I just slide the CD in and let Robert W. do his thing.
    Of course if we had palm trees in Ohio ……. it would be perfect.
    ” save a nickel, save a dime, save a dollar and much more at your Thrifty Drug stores.”

    Well gang, I am off to the paint store. Hope to start staining the cedar fence this weekend. Not a small job.
    Best regards,
    Phil A.

  • Chris P says:

    I heard that in Westwood the UCLA students would come in and order one sundae and get a bunch of iced tea spoons, put the sundae dish in the middle and fill the entire tray with ice cream and toppings and drip from the sundae bar to their table.
    I’ll check out the location of the Gardena unit soon and let you know if the building is still there.
    Later,
    Chris P

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Love all this information that is coming in…..

    Thanks for the details on the Gardena location, Phil. No wonder I didn’t know anything about it – before my time. I’m curious though as to where on Rosecrans it was – wondering if the building is still there? I drove around that area a lot in the late 70’s / early 80’s.
    – And thanks for the Robert W. blurb. He was my all-time favorite DJ – and I’ve been listening to radio since about 1959. I cried when I heard he had passed. I bought a Jazz Crusaders CD just to have his theme song.

    Chris – Your post on Woodland Hills caused me to recall some of those same things. I went there only once (if I remember correctly). It was to deliver some stock item they were short on, or something like that (hamburger patties?). I remember the carpet. Westwood had carpet as well. It was a constant problem.

  • Chris P says:

    Mike went into the airforce in 1967 for 4 years then came back and worked with us in Woodland Hills until we closed it and then went back to #1. I was at #7 at the time.
    Mike did help open The Risty before he joined the service.
    I do have a few original oval plates, not the ones with the Uncle Woody IHOP logo,the original ones with the yodeler. I also have a set of straps and yellow shirt and checkered pants. I think they are in my attic somewhere.
    When I come across them I’ll take a picture and send it to Phil.
    I used to have some matchbooks too.
    I think I’m pretty accurate on my facts but I could be off a little but generally they are the way I remember them.
    Have a good weekend everyone.
    Chris P.

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    For Chris P.
    Thanks for giving us the insight into the Woodland Hills unit. I can see why John C. was not in love with this store.
    Question: Once WH closed and Mike Schuler returned to Culver City, how many years did he remain with you? I am wondering if Mike stayed until the CC closing in 1985.
    Chris, I must tell you that I have been sleeping much better since you told us how you finally installed fries in El Segundo and Culver City. Amen .
    One King Swiss extra rare coming up !
    Phil A.

  • chris p says:

    Woodland Hills was in the bottom of an office building.
    It originally was opened as a carvary, I believe. It was converted to a Woodys not long after. It had carpeted dining rooms with chandeliers. It was a challenge running that store because the line was so large it took a lot of steps for everything. The carpets were a constant mess because people would spill ice cream from the ice cream bar on their way back to their tables. We kept that store for a short while but decided to close it when the lease was up. The sales we never really that great, at least, while I was connected with it. After the earthquake in 1971 all the windows broke out including the grill glass. The whole building sunk about a foot.
    When you went to the storeroom upstairs you had to duck under a steel beam which used to be above you head. My friend Mike Schuler was the last manager there then he moved back to #1 after we closed it.
    I hope I got my facts right.
    Phil, managers usually work 40 hours, but are on salaries so that can change. You’re pretty close on your salary estimate, most more some a little less.
    St Bernards.
    Everyone,
    Take care,
    Chris

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Good Morgan ! ( as in Robert W. ~ KHJ Boss Angeles )

    This narrative will focus on Woody’s GARDENA.
    I have delayed putting my two cents in because I was hoping another individual would come forth bringing 100% facts.
    It occurred to me that it could take months and months for this to happen
    and none of us are getting younger.
    This is what I have to offer;
    100 % facts : Woody’s did have a unit in Gardena. ( free standing )
    It was on Rosecrans
    It’s life was short lived ( within initial 5 year lease )
    ( early 1959 thru late 1963 )

    The following info MAY NOT be 100% fact because I learned this from conversations in 1964 and 1965 AFTER GARDENA WAS CLOSED.
    There is a guy in the following scenario who I will refer to as Mr.X
    because of the preceeding sentence.
    Here we go; Gardena was the third unit opened and had the designation of unit #3. After three years, sales were not reaching the desired levels
    so a sub lease was offered to the man who was the current manager.(Mr.X)
    Mr X took over in the forth year and changed the name, but kept the self serve condiment and sundae bars. In addition to the name change, Mr X did some things to put a very large focus on the ” chopped peanuts”
    for the burgers. I DO NOT know what these actions were.

    With Mr X at the helm, sales continued to slide …… to the point when it was decided that the lease and sub lease would be allowed to expire.
    With the closing of Gardena, Mr X REJOINED the Woody’s operation and remained in management until Mr. Wood closed his Figueroa unit many years later.

    The conversations I heard in 1964/64 seemed to cast a feeling that GARDENA was the ” black sheep” of the family and yes there was some snickering about Mr X and his ” peanut burger “.

    In closing, I now wonder if Gardena suffered from the same problems that IHOP had with their units. I say this because the vast majority of IHOP units did not survive past three years. In addition we have to remember that investors who bought into the Woody’s IHOP franchise had to pay the fees and monthly royalties set forth in the contracts. Those fees could very well be what squeezed the bottom line.

    I do enjoy these tests on my memory.

    For Memorial Day, I intend to write a narrative in honor of two men who died in Vietnam during battles in 1968 / 1969.
    They were both employees of Woody’s El Segundo . We worked together during my tenure there as manager 1966/1967.

    Please join me if you feel that you have something you also would like to share.

    All my best,
    Phil Ankofski

  • Stephen says:

    Marshall it would not have been El Segundo as that was not my area. As Chris indicated it was on the north side. I think there was a roller skating rink nearby. Thanks for the location in Woodland Hills. I rarely went farther north than Vanowen.

    I found a match book cover that indicates there was a location in Reseda. I can’t imagine where.

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Hello Chris P.
    During my tenure with Woody’s, a six day work week was the norm for
    unit managers. Questions ; was there a point in time when the work week was reduced to 5 days? What is the industry standard today?
    How many days per week do the EPL managers work?
    I am thinking the annual pay for a unit manager must be aroung 50K
    in California. Am I far off ?
    Where did you go to high school?
    Thanks Chris.
    Phil A.

  • Chris says:

    Anyone remember the do it yourself coffee break in the mornings?
    We would put out a manual cash register on the front counter with donuts, pastries and coffee.
    Customers would come in and help themselves and ring up their own sale.
    Wow, what a trip. I wonder why that stopped, hmmm.
    Also remember April 15th income tax special.
    2 Smorgasburgers for the price of one, all day. Free coffee for people waiting in line. The line at Culver City was out the door.
    I always looked forward to that, all the excitement.
    These were all from the mid sixties
    Also, there was a location on Rosecrans on the north side of the street. I think Gardena, not sure about that.
    Anyway, just a few things more for everyone to remember.
    Later,
    Chris

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Stephen – Regarding your visit to a Woody’s in Gardena (maybe on Rosecrans?), that’s a new one on me. Are you sure you couldn’t be thinking of perhaps of the El Segundo location? I know the Gardena area pretty well (but not until the mid 70’s), and I don’t recall seeing any building that could have been a Woody’s. What surroundings do you remember about it? There were some Woody’s franchises in the 60’s, but I don’t have any specifics on locations. I do know there were some in northern California.

  • Marshall Loveday says:

    Stephen –
    The Woodland Hills Woody’s Smorgasburger was on Topanga Canyon Bl (near Victory?), on the west side of the street. It was unique in the Woody’s restaurant group in that it was not a stand-alone building. Not sure what else was with it, bu could have been a clothing store, jewelry store, etc. Was only there a couple of times….

    Phil – Great idea for a reunion. I might just be able to come down from Oregon for that. I’ve lost touch with Steve Dabbs long time ago, but he might be living in Orange County – not sure. He always liked to keep a low profile.

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Good Morgan ! ( in honor of the late and great Robert W. Morgan ~ KHJ ~)

    I for one cannot assist Stephen with unit location info. I am sure someone will find us and provide some answers.

    Thanks Gary for the reunion nomination but I do not have the skill sets for arranging parties plus I am 2400 miles away in Dublin, Ohio.
    It is a fabulous idea ! I think it would take guys like Chris Pingel and Steve Dabbs to be on board since they would have the broadest range of contacts with ex employees.

    I do have a suggestion for the gathering place: It is right in Ralph Wood’s and Chris Pingel’s front yard : The Admiral Risty in Palos Verdes !
    Wouldn’t it be awesome to gather and give a toast to the two men who made and maintained ” Woody’s ” as we all knew it ?

    The Admiral Risty opens for dinner at 4 PM to the public.
    We could arrange with Wayne Judah ( general manager ) to take over the Risty from say 10 AM to 3:30 PM.
    At 11 o’clock we would fire up the grills and then serve only a 100 %
    Woody’s Smorgasburger lunch ; The smorgies, King smorgies, Materhorns,
    Green salads, plus the potato and mac salads. Potato chips and root beers
    of course. ( cannot forget the chopped peanuts and salsa ) . At 2PM the ” Do it yourself sundae bar” would be set up and ready to go.
    At 2:30 , Mr. Wood might be receptive to opening the Risty’s cocktail bar.
    Sounds like a chance in a lifetime to me.

    ( for readers who did not know ; Mr. Wood and partner originated the
    Woody’s Smorgasburger in 1956. Mr. Wood and his wife Barbara opened the Admiral Risty in 1966 and this restaurant has now been operating
    continuously for 47 years ! )

    Mr. Wood will be 88 this year and I understand from Chris P. that it would be pretty rare now to find him ” at work .”
    I cannot wait to see comments and suggestions regarding the above.
    Happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there.
    Phil Ankofski

  • Stephen says:

    During the 1960s I ate at the location in or near Gardena, on Rosecrans I think. I also ate a few times at Hollywood Rivera. In 1973 I moved to Reseda. I lived there for 27 years. I did not see a Woody’s in Reseda or Woodland Hills. Can any tell me where the restaurants were located in those communities?

  • Mike Sheffield says:

    I remeber all of them grew up in mar vista and used the one near the studio drive in to get food to go for the moives the ymade the most awesome bake potaes too ,and when they did fries it was teh french cut one looked like little fans .. miss the MAterhorn my fave burger of all time :).. that placeand sterns bbq are still in my head .. sterns used the most incredible sauce made from brisquit drippings. god i couldve eaten the sauce alone LOL.. so sad they are all gone people dont know whatthey are missing

  • Gary Wilcut says:

    Hi Chris,

    I remember you well from when you and my brother would come to Woody’s and I would treat you and my brother to a free Smorgasburger and beverage, thanks to Ralph’s generous food allowance he gave to his employees as a perk.
    I also have found memories of your brother Steve, as we were in the Boy Scouts together in Westchester circa 1957. We had a reunion in Las Vegas in 2011 of the Westchester Boy Scouts, many of which worked at Tiny Naylors, but could not locate your brother. Phil A. might be interested in putting together a reunion of Woody’s employees. What a lot of stories we would here about those times.
    Chris, I hear you did well in the restaurant industry from those days at Woody’s. Congratulations !

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    For MARK EVANIER ~

    Thank you for creating and maintaining this web site.
    I too am a big history buff and your site has enabled me to satisfy my curiosity on many issues regarding the Woody’s Smorgasburger operation.
    I looked up your bio on the search engine, and I must commend you on your very interesting career. I hope you will keep this up for a long time.
    Best regards,
    Phil Ankofski ~ Woody’s employee

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Good morning all,
    Thanks Chris for yet another informative narrative.
    Your explanation of the fry layout is excellent and I can now visualize
    just how you did it. Knowing these facts, I can now rest in peace.

    Some additional names from Culver City, circa 1964 / 1965 ;
    Jerry Walters ~ Wally Roga ~ Dave Fujiwara ~

    I will always remember Dave as the guy who made me aware of Bob Dylan.
    Dave was taking daytime classes and therefore was always working the closing shift. Anyway, after all work was done and the back door was locked, Dave would sit on his motorcycle with his guitar and play several of Dylan’s tunes. Dave was very good.
    ( PS ~ I now have a 30 year old daughter Kate who has enjoyed 35 live venue concerts featuring Bob Dylan. How could I have ever known ? )

    Chris, aside from ashtrays and coffee mugs, did you select any major items
    from the Culver City demolition to serve as momentos?
    I hope you saved some table and chair sets plus a picnic table or two.
    Please tell me you saved the stainless steel spatchula !

    I have been trying to repress your comment about the King Swiss Extra Rare. My stomach cannot handle it.

    Have a great week everyone !
    Phil A.

  • Chris Pingel says:

    Hi Everyone again,
    Thanks, Phil.
    I closed #1 Culver City in 1985. Couldn’t decide what to do with the building for quite sometime and then was introduced to another popular concept by a friend and decided to demolish the building, which was 30 years old, and try that. It’s doing very well.
    Anyway, we put fries in at #7 in 1971. We installed two high efficiency, high capacity counter model, electric fryers on the counter behind the grill, on the back wall. We installed a stainless steel hood with fire system above that and put in a Quartz tube electric fry warmer next to that.
    It worked out very well. We sold 250 to 300 pounds of fries daily.
    Needless to say Potato and mac salad sales dropped dramatically. I dropped mac. after just a short time.
    In Culver City we put in a smaller broiler and installed a floor model Frymaster fryer next to it. Worked well.
    I don’t think we would have been able to do it that way with the business we did in the 60’s, though. We needed all the broiler space we could get, as you all know.
    Woody’s #1 had a very small line and couldn’t fit many extras.
    More later.
    Chris

  • Chris says:

    Hi, Phil.
    I closed Woodys #1 in 1985. It was really hard for me because it was my first real job and there were so many memories there. I kept it closed for close to a year until I figured out what to do with the property. I then decided, with my friend’s advice, to try a new concept.
    I watched each day as they dismantled the building and it was so sad for me. Remember this was the first Woodys.
    I still kept #7 El Segundo.
    When we took over the 2 stores in 1971, first thing we did was put fries in El Segundo. Business boomed, although it was already doing well.
    We installed a new hood over the back counter behind the broiler.
    We put 2 high efficiency, large capacity counter top electric fryers under the hood, We didn’t use heat lamps, we used a warming unit with quartz tubes. Everything worked well. We sold 250 to 300 lbs. a day at the time.
    Needless to say potato salad and mac salad slowed to a crawl. I eventually took out mac salad.
    #1 C.C. Put a slightly smaller gas grill in and installed the floor model frymaster fryer next to that under the same hood. It worked out well.
    I’m not sure this design would have worked in Woody’s hayday do to the large volumn of grilled items we sold back then. It did work for us at the time though.
    Next time I’ll explain, what happened in 1971 when Woodys split came about and who went where.

    Chris

    Just a note:
    They torn down Redondo about a month ago to make way for a whole new restaurant.

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Hello Chris !
    I am so pleased you have found this site ! I was sure it would mean a lot to you knowing so many past patrons and employees loved your lifes work too. I am glad you mentioned the window of time that you were in the valley with family. It explains why I did not see you while I was working at #7 and #2. Your quip about the mustaches is great !
    Questions; In what year did you close Culver City ?
    When you introduced fries at # 7 and # 1 , what kind of equipment did you select and where was it placed ? I cannot picture in my mind where fryers and heat lamps could fit in on the line.
    Once you had fries, did they have a big effect on buisness ?

    That’s it for today Chris …… and THANK YOU !
    Phil Ankofski

  • Chris Pingel says:

    Well,well, well. I just discovered this web site and have read every comment.
    You all sure have brought back a lot of memories form the past.
    Gary mentioned that he recommended me back in 1964 for a job at Woodys #1 Culver City.
    I got the job.
    Ron hired me and Ty was his assistant manager at the time.
    I started as a busboy, nights mostly and weekend days.
    Boy we were busy in those days and it was so fun working there.
    I worked there from 64 till 66 when our family relocated to the San Gabrial Valley. I came back in 1970 after I got married.
    Back in 64 I remember getting some of my school buddies jobs, Mike Schuler and Mike O’Rourke and, I’m sure a few others. We all had so much fun.
    I have so many stories from those years and from 1970 on.
    As Phil mentioned I did purchase the last 2 stores in late 1978. #1 and #7.
    #7 El Segundo was still doing very well, a line out the door everyday, Culver City was just hanging on.
    I have a lot to info and history but I’ll have to do it in stages if you all are interested.
    Salsa #10 cans SE Rykoff pizza sauce, dehydrated bell peppers, dehydrated onions, salt and pepper. I’d have to really jar my memory to remember the quantities.
    Phil and I just talked a few weeks ago and it was so intresting. He and I closed together for awhile in the 60’s. He was always very nice and we worked well together.
    I did hire the first female in Culver City and, I believe, I was the first to have a mustache. The reason I got to keep the mustache was Ralph and John R, after I was told to take it off said I looked better with it on. Ralph later grew one himself.
    Anyway, I’ll keep giving you more history or answer any questions, if I can.
    Chris

  • Marlene says:

    Gary, your recipe is a keeper. Not Woody’s but a keeper just the same.

    Thinking about a pita bread and a lamb burger.

  • Marlene says:

    Outstanding my friends!

    I heard in the past that Pizza sauce was involved. I also always suspected freeze dried onions.

    I must try my own version but I’m leaving here now to check out Gary Wilcut’s version.

    Of course I need to also buy thinly sliced sour pickles and chopped peanuts to top my chargrilled burger.

    If it tastes anything remotely similar to the burger of my dreams I’m inviting my brother’s family over for a surprise dinner!

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Yes, Oregano it is !

  • Phil ( Mr. A. ) says:

    Marlene, Gary, Marshall and all other Woody’s salsa fans,

    Direct from the horses mouth; I have just communicated with a most wonderful guy who was associated with Woody’s more years than
    Mr. Ralph Wood himself. I have made him aware of this web site and invited him to join us. In the meantime, his words on the salsa;
    Pizza sauce ( tomato sauce and tomato paste ) dehydrated bell peppers and onions with salt and pepper. This was the company wide recipe until the later years when only the El Segundo store remained.
    Once El Segundo was on it’s own, the dehydrated bell peppers and onions
    were nixed in favor of fresh produce, freshly chopped.
    That’s it gang . I am most happy that I could keep my commitment
    to Marlene.
    PS . modern recipes call for Oregino and olive oil as well.
    Anyway, I am off to check out Gary Wilcuts recipe, and a thank you to Gary for sharing. Hello Marshall.
    Let’s all keep our fingers crossed that my former Woody’s coworker
    will join us on this web site.
    Phil Ankofski

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